A regional economic revitalisation initiative through community-led heritage regeneration.
As part of the Silver to Sea Way project, the Gladstone Gaol will undergo a range of works intended to preserve its built structure and revitalise the tourism experiences on offer.
During the late 1870s, the Keeper of Redruth Gaol, Burra, complained to authorities about overcrowding. He proposed that either Redruth was expanded, or a new gaol constructed. Situated mid-way between Redruth and Port Augusta, Gladstone was considered the ideal location for a new complex.
Opened in 1881, the Gladstone Gaol was designed by E.J. Woods of the Architects-in-Chief’s Department and built by Sara and Dunstan, Burra. Based on the latest in British design, the Gladstone Gaol comprised of three cell blocks housing females, convicted males and males awaiting trial. These blocks converged onto an octagonal tower nicknamed ‘The Circle’. Although boasting of 62 cells, the Gladstone Gaol never operated at full capacity. Rather, the prison cat, Lady Jane Grey, was the only ‘inmate’ to serve a full life sentence!
On 6 September 1939, Gladstone Gaol was handed over to the military for use as an internment camp. Over the following months, it housed both Italian and German internees. Later, between March 1942 and November 1943, the gaol was used as a military detention camp.
Following a decade of vacancy, Gladstone Gaol reopened in 1953. As a correctional training facility, it housed low-risk, male prisoners aged between 18 and 25. The Gladstone Gaol closed permanently on 31 December 1975, after two decades of providing relief for congestion at the Port Augusta Gaol.
The Gaol was leased to the Northern Areas Council in January 1979 and has been a regional tourist attraction ever since.